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Defunct West Chester, Pa., company and owner ordered to restore $661K+ in retirement plan assets following DOL lawsuit

WEST CHESTER, Pa. — The U.S. Department of Labor has obtained a summary judgment ordering Compass Capital Partners Ltd. and owner Harris M. DeWese to restore $661,206 to the defunct West Chester company’s retirement plan. The judgment resolves a lawsuit filed by the department in August 2011 that alleged violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

The suit resulted from an investigation by the department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, which found that DeWese withdrew funds from the plan eight times from October 2006 to October 2007 and deposited them in his personal account and a Compass Capital Partners bank account. DeWese then used the plan funds to pay the company’s operating expenses and also transferred a portion of them to Tampa, Fla.-based Hillsboro Printing, a company in which DeWese was a shareholder. Compass Capital Partners ceased operations, and the plan was unable to pay benefits to retired participants as a result of DeWese’s actions.

“These actions show a flagrant breach of fiduciary responsibility,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employee Benefits Security Phyllis C. Borzi. “We will continue to hold plan sponsors and other responsible parties accountable when they fall short of their legal obligation to protect the hard-earned savings of plan participants.”

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the judgment removes DeWese and Compass as plan fiduciaries and permanently enjoins them from serving as fiduciaries for any ERISA-covered plan. It also appoints Metro Benefits Inc. of Pittsburgh as the independent fiduciary authorized to terminate the plan.

EBSA’s Philadelphia office conducted the investigation. Employers and workers can contact that office at 215-861-5300 or toll-free at 866-444-3272 for assistance with problems related to private sector pension and health plans. The case was litigated by the department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor in Philadelphia.

EBSA protects the security of the retirement, health and other workplace-related benefits of America’s workers, retirees and their families. The agency oversees approximately 708,000 private sector retirement plans, 2.8 million health plans and other plans that provide benefits to more than 150 million Americans. Collectively, these plans hold more than $6 trillion in assets. Additional information can be found at http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/.

Solis v. Harris M. DeWese et al.
Civil Action Number: 11-CV-4509

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